The face of the water is beautiful but it is not good to sleep on. (Ashanti proverb)
Street talk and street lessons …
My Farmers Almanac desk calendar tells me February’s full moon is called the Snow Moon because the heaviest snows usually occur during this month.
Well it’s a good thing they used the word “usually” eh? While our snow is dwindling so far, there’s a heavy fall of respect coming down on North America’s political capitals these days. Actually it’s not just respect, it’s “great respect.”
Most of it in Canada is aimed at that Emerson fellow from the wet coast. He’s had so much respect, and “great respect” he’ll have trouble getting his hat on, if he wears one, and who wouldn’t with all that wet, and respect falling down all over you?
Respect, I thought was like honesty, you had it or you didn’t, but like so many of today’s values, it now seems to depend on which side of the power struggle you’re on.
One bunch appears to believe respect comes automatically with wealth and power, and can even be conferred from above.
The other side believes you earn it, good deed by good deed, and it accumulates over time, like a savings account. And, like a savings account one bad move is like pulling the plug and watching it all go down the drain.
So, meet The Cleaning Lady. Sadly the author of this anecdote, which we’ve shared before, is anonymous.
“In our second month of college, our professor gave us a quiz. The questions were a breeze until I read the last one:
“’What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?’
“Surely this is a joke. I had seen the cleaning woman and knew she was tall, dark-haired and guessed she was in her 50s, but how would I know her name?
“I couldn’t answer the question and left it blank. Just before class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward our quiz grade.
“Absolutely,” said the professor. “In your careers, you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say, ‘hello.’
“I’ve never forgotten that lesson. I also learned her name was Dorothy.”
The loudest boo’s come from those in the free seats.
Tales from the dumb side…
We arrived in Hawaii in mid-afternoon, got a car and decided to go sightseeing.
Dumb idea, it was 5 p.m. and there were two cheechakos jammed into Honolulu’s 5 o’clock traffic, feeling like fish out of water.
“Too soon old, too late smart,” should have been my bumper sticker.
Honolulu’s rush-hour traffic equaled, or bettered, Vancouver’s. We were trapped in the right lane with one option — follow the leader, whoever he was. I say he because lady luck joined us.
Dead ahead, on our side, palm trees, beach, picnic tables, a washroom and not a soul in the place. I came out of the biffy, as another car drove in.
The grin on his face equaled the late afternoon sun. He parked a couple of slots away, hollered out the window, still grinning widely, “Wahines is the ladies. Want a beer?”
We’d met a man with his own way of handling 5 o’clock traffic.
We joined him for his daily routine, and he was obviously prepared for company. His commute home was a quiet, peaceful respite from a busy city day, turning his drive home to “a walk in the park.”
My dumb move just got smart. We enjoyed Hawaiian hospitality, left with a feel for him and his people, and a reminder there’s more than one way to skin a cat. Doing things differently means you may be alone, though, down the road others might appreciate your approach and even join in.
The words of the night are coated with butter. As soon as the sun shines they melt away. (Egyptian proverb.)
A tip of the hat to the professor, whoever he is, Dorothy, the cleaning lady, and George, the Hawaiian.
Street lessons from people whose anecdote teaches with simplicity; simplicity which becomes, in reality, profound. People do count, and finding new ways to solve old problems — something to watch for eh?